Yael Cohen, PMP, is a freelance program
manager in Denver, Colorado, USA.
How merely being polite can help your projects run more smoothly.
By Yael Cohen, PMP
Once, after attending a meeting with an external
stakeholder, I sent a thank-you email on behalf
of my team. The stakeholder immediately wrote
back, thanking me for my note and saying that if
I needed any additional information, she would
be happy to supply it. A few weeks later, when
I had another request, she remembered me and
promptly followed up.
As project managers, we
often ask for and receive information, but rarely do we
address just how important
etiquette is within our
profession. In my experience, simple politeness
goes a long way toward
creating cordial dealings
with stakeholders and team
helps projects run better.
Here are four key ways to
incorporate courtesy into
Ask nicely. Using “please,”
while only an extra word,
is likely to score you extra
points. I’ve noticed I am more inclined to quickly
send requested information to courteous people
than to those who have been rude to me.
Be thankful. Even if you know you’re entitled to
the information, you should still be appreciative
of the person who provided it. Saying “thank you”
will make you stand out from others who don’t use
Be respectful. Ignoring requests is not justifi-
able, even if deadlines are tight and you’re jug-
gling competing priorities. If you’re not mindful
of someone else’s time, others are likely to follow
suit. I’ve had team members ask why they have to
attend other groups’ meetings when people from
those groups don’t attend my team’s meetings. But
I still encourage my team members to attend in the
hopes that their respectful behavior will eventually
rub off on others.
Offer praise. Acknowledge when you see or
hear politeness from
your team members. And
always try to end a meeting on a praiseworthy
note. This can be difficult,
but even if the project is
going poorly there may
be an opportunity to
praise your team for continuing to work hard.
Being courteous can create
a commonality among
stakeholders in disparate
disciplines. In project
circles, sometimes the
functional and technical teams struggle to communi-
cate, but “please” and “thank you” are universal terms
that transcend this struggle. They can even help ease
tension within the team.
No matter where you are in your career or in
a project, it is never too late to employ etiquette
and cultivate a respectful and courteous environment. PM
VOICES In the Trenches
goes a long